It all happens in the cracks between meal-making and mess-cleaning. It happens as little ones circle my legs and food simmers on the stove, me scribbling notes and thoughts to come back to later when the kids have gone to bed. It happens in waiting areas, on park benches, and in the early morning or late night hours at home. It happens in pajamas, with wild hair and no makeup. It happens between nursing babies, sweeping, and stops at the grocery store.
This is my creative life, squeezed into the small spaces available to me.
For years, I struggled to embrace the tension between my everyday responsibilities and the dreams of my heart. Where I wanted things to mesh, like a hand-in-glove, reality looked more like sparks of iron against iron. I wanted more time and fewer roadblocks. I wanted a checklist to follow that would supply me with the courage I lacked. I wanted the landscape of life to look more organized: a tidy calendar, a mess-free house, and predictable, obedient children that never turned my day upside-down–all things I thought I needed in order to unfurl my full creative potential. I wanted a clear direction and ideas that were guaranteed to succeed.
I didn’t know that I had to first start the work, and figure some things out as I went—taking little steps (and sometimes leaps) of faith along the way.
I erroneously thought successful people created their brilliant works in great swaths of readily available time, with little resistance, surrounded by tranquil scenery. I thought I was the only one who wrestled my doubts and wrangled my schedule on a daily basis to wring out a few hours of clarity in a week.
What I found is that other creative people are just like me; working quietly in humble spaces, with minuscule amounts of time in some seasons, slowly and often painfully giving birth to their ideas in the midst of their messy, multi-faceted lives. On our end, we see glamorous and perfectly-presented work, but what we don’t see is the incalculable years of training, time, heart, and straight up sweat that went into getting it there. We don’t see the obstacles or the fear standing at the gate, poised to steal the joy of bringing creative work to life.
It wasn’t until I started embracing my real life as the mother of a large family—acknowledging that what success looks like for me might look different than what it does for others—that I began finding forward momentum. I’ve grown to love the limits of my life and how they cause me to be more intentional about everything, more aware of the value of the time I am given, and more faithful to steward all of my responsibilities and resources well.
For those of you who feel the pang of desire, but aren’t sure if you have what it takes to begin pursuing whatever creative ideas resounding within you: your story is unlike anyone else’s. Your voice is needed. You might write the line or sing the song that unlocks hope for someone else. Your challenges and obstacles are uniquely yours, and your path forward is going to be as well. You are not competing for a small slice of pie in a finite dish of great ideas. You are invited to discover the wide and wondrous possibilities of your own creativity together with the Creator who put that desire within you, and embark on a journey of listening and looking for His fingerprints all around you.
This post by Kindred Mom founder Emily Sue Allen was originally shared over on Crystal Stine’s blog.
Emily Sue Allen is the founder and visionary behind KindredMom.com, an online community and podcast dedicated to helping women find joy and purpose in motherhood. Emily is passionate about living a deeply nourished life and celebrating the beauty of ordinary moments. She is forever marked by the rescue and redemption Jesus Christ has accomplished in her life. Emily is a featured contributor in Strong, Brave & Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, a collaborative volume of essays written to encourage moms in the weeds of parenting kids at home, a member of Hope*writers, and an ongoing devotional writer for Joyful Life Magazine. She lives with her husband and seven kids—three girls and four boys—in the Pacific Northwest. Emily’s website is emilysueallen.com. Subscribe to her newsletter “Flowers, Children & Other Lovely Things” at emilysueallen.substack.com and find her on Instagram.